August 22, 2014 Subject:
Review of the show "Mr. and Mrs. North: Two Faced"
“Mr. and Mrs. North” is 30 minutes crime drama TV show, based on vignettes written by Frances and Richard Lockridge in 1930s. Firstly, detective stories about Jerry and Pamela North, who lived in Greenwich, New York City and were involved in investigations of many different kinds of crimes, were turned into a movie “Mr. and Mrs. North” in 1942 by MGM studios. Later in 1942, CBS started to air the detective stories on the radio. It was a popular radio show that reached at some point 20 million listeners and run up to 1954. In 1952, CBS Network has adapted the radio show to the TV show, making it mysterious crime drama genre. The casts of the radio show “Mr. and Mrs. North” has moved to the television, since sponsors, who carried shows, wanted the same characters to appear in both mediums. Thus, the show had a permanent cast of three actors and actresses such as Francis De Sales, Barbara Richard and Britton Denning; they were casted in over 40 episodes of the show. Federal Telefilm and John Loveton produced the show. In 1954, after producing and airing 39 episodes, CBS dropped the show. According to the review in a Variety magazine from 1953, Colgate, major sponsor at CBS Network, has dropped the show “Mr. and Mrs. North” broadcasted from 10:00 to 10:30 pm, because it was too expensive for the company to support it. There were other shows on CBS such as “The Big Payoff” and “Comedy Hour” that were more profitable for Colgate to sponsor. However, in January of 1954, NBC Network started to air the show, and managed to make 18 episodes, 30 minutes each long. In addition, Revlon Products Corporation, related to cosmetics businesses, became the sponsor of the show. In May of 1954, NBC stopped airing the show.
A few directors were involved in the production of the show, but Ralph Murphy has directed most of the episodes, including “Two Faced”. He was a film director, and the show “Mr. and Mrs. North” was, in fact, made in a cinematic style, using one camera. There were no laugh tracks that were used in a typical sitcom. The show was made in a hybrid genre: it was mystery, crime, drama and comedy with humor present. For example, at the end of the episode “Two Faced” Mrs. North claimed that she wanted to change her hat, which involved her and her husband in the investigation, for another one. Low-key lighting added mysterious and dramatic sentiments to the show, as well as enhanced genre conventions.
In 1953, the reviews for the show were positive. One of the critics said, “the North’s were never impersonated by a more decorative pair” (Bundy, 1954). Thus, it could be inferred that audiences liked the cast. It was mentioned by critics, that the script of the show was full of twists that created mystery and suspense among viewers, while the pace of the show was claimed to be a little bit too slow. “Mr. and Mrs. North” represented a value of justice, where criminals were always caught and punished for their actions. It showed what American society was, is and will be in the future. Moreover, viewers of the show were represented with the image of typical womanhood expectations at that time: Pamela North was supporting her husband and actively involved in crime investigations. In fact, some of the crime investigations were started due to her activities. For instance, in the episode “Two Faced”, she desperately needed her hat, left in a barber’s shop, so Jerry and Pamela North were engaged in a detection of death of a barber’s wife.
It was interesting to see through the broadcasting of the show, how the radio ratings remained high. Radio was cheaper than TV, so people still relied on radio for the entertainment shows in 1940’s and 1950’s. However, in comparison to the radio style, “Mr. and Mrs. North” was a dynamic TV show with a lot of action in it.
In 1979-1984, ABC started to air the show again as crime drama comedy. However, there was another cast involved in the production as well as the script was altered, in order to fit the expectations of the current viewers.
Ames, Walter. "TV's Mr. and Mrs. North Annex Radio Version; Visual Intercom shown." Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File): 28. Jun 16 1953. ProQuest. Web. 20 Aug. 2014.
Bundy, June. "Reviews: TV FILM - Mr. and Mrs. North." The Billboard (Archive: 1894-1960) Feb 06 1954: 9. ProQuest. Web. 20 Aug. 2014.
Plotnik, Gene. "TV-Films: TV-Film Reviews - Mr. and Mrs. North." The Billboard (Archive: 1894-1960) Oct 11 1952: 16. ProQuest. Web. 20 Aug. 2014.
"TV-Films: Mr. & Mrs. North' Expanded to Hour; Drop 30-Min. Segs." Variety (Archive: 1905-2000) Sep 30 1959: 24. ProQuest. Web. 20 Aug. 2014.